Monday, 7 December 2015

Graze Mince Pie Flapjack

I think everyone must be familiar with the Graze concept by now - 4 tasty and unusual snacks delivered to your door, which can be as healthy or as naughty as you like. Fitting into the latter category, is this limited edition Garze punnet - a Christmas take on a flapjack.

image of mince pie flapjack

Graze flapjacks in my opinion are one of the tastiest offerings they do (although I have to say pretty much the entire range is delicious and the variety is fab). Their flapjacks have a lovely texture, soft and squidgy and almost like fudge like but with an oaty texture you can really feel and taste. They're sweet but not overly so and are a nice sensible portion.

Like all other flapjacks in their range, these are beautifully coloured and look very appetising. I like the fact they are cut into three slim rectangles to make the snack last a bit longer (and I have on very self conrolled ocassions been known to use this to eat the pieces in seperate snack occasions!).

The flapjack has a nice festive smell, not overly so but you do get hints of cinnamon, ginger and cloves and all those lovely Christmas cake spices. Biting in, the texture was perfect as always. Dense, chewy and satisfying and with a lovely buttery, rich taste. It's slightly gooey and feels like a real treat.

Now, I didn't think the flapjack tasted particularly like mince pie, I guess it's missing the pastry flavour because the base is oats and as it only contains dates (and at just 12%), it's missing that mix of currants and raisins you get in a typical mince pie. But it's not bad at all, in fact it's really rather delicious. It might not taste like mince pie but it is unmistakenly Christmassy.

All the spices blend and complement each other and the sweet, syrupy oats make a great carrier for their sweet, festive flavours. They're not overpowering but you do taste them and it does give a Christmas cake like flavour.

A real winner from Graze for me and worth trying to get hold of one before they disappear


Available from

Per portion: 234 calories, 11g fat, 3.6g saturated fat and 17g sugars.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Marks and Spencer Butternut Squash, Feta and Spinach Muffin (In Store Bakery)

Marks and Spencer hands down have my favourite in store bakery. For me every item has the same quality you would get in somewhere like Starbucks or Pret but without the price tag. In spite of all the trends of gluten free and carb cutting, I absolutely adore baked goods and just the smell when you get near the instore bakery grabs my attention and seduces me into having a browse.

M&S always have such interesting items with unusual twists that appear seasonally for a few months and then disappear. I've always enjoyed their seasonal, savoury treats (a caramelised onion and feta scone one summer was a particular highlight) so this autumnal take on a muffin sounded right up my street.

It's certainly a pretty hefty looking piece, which it needed to be to warrant it's price tag at over £1. However, it is also pretty filling and makes substantial and delightful lunch. The muffin is packed with salty feta, sweet, creamy butternut and the inclusion of pumpkin seeds both in and on top of the muffin add some nice crunch for a perfect texture contrast to the soft, spongy muffin. The spinach adds a nice green hit of veggie goodness without no bitterness.

The muffin is absolutely delicious with a real savoury kick that is immensely enjoyable. My one criticism is that this is one crumbly little number and whether you try and cut it or bite into it, it does have a habit of breaking up. But this a small price to pay for something so delicious. It makes a really interesting change to standard bread or rolls and is so packed full of flaovur, it doesn't need anything else to accompany it


Saturday, 5 December 2015

Nespresso Vanilla Amaretti Pods (Christmas Limited Edition 2015)

I'm still relativrly new to the Nespresso world, only having picked up a machine a few months ago. I adore my coffee so have been working my way through the various pods but this is my first experience of a Christmas limited edition. I absolutely adore any almondy and love amaretti and the existing vanilla flavoured Nespresso pods are my regular weekend latte so this was a no brainer for me.

Like all  Nespresso capsules, it's smartly and attractively packaged and I love the edition of Christmassy sparkles.

As soon as I the popped the capsule in the machine and started making the coffee, I could smell the delicious smell of amaretti, a warming almondy scent - a good start!

Like the vanilla pods, I prefer my flavoured coffee to be made as milky cappuccinos or lattes so I also used the Nespresso aeroccino to make my own amaretti latte - my very own take on Caffe Nero's seasonal latte from last year!

The drink was warm and comforting although the amaretti only comes through as an undertone with the vanilla flavour being more pronounced. However, it's great to have a flavoured coffee that doesn't involve the sugar or artificial sweetners you get in coffee shop sticky syrups. Whilst the regular vanilla pods are still my favourite flavoured pods, this made a lovely seasonal treat.


Sunday, 1 March 2015

Marks and Spencer Cinnamon, Plum and Apple Cereal Bars

M&S is always a good choice when I want to try and find some healthier snacks and these cereal bars are part of the Eat Well range. The first thing that really stood out to me with these is that they are lower in sugar than other cereal bars. Per 100g it's less than 20g - considering most cereal bars are over a third sugar, this is pretty good and equates to just under 8g per bar.

Furthermore, this cereal bar is made up of lots of natural ingredients and is packed full of good foods for lots of added benefits. Oats unsurprisingly make up the bulk but then it is also jam packed with brazil nuts, sultanas and plums plus has lots of other whole grains in it like spelt and linseed for further fibre.

This gives it a really interesting texture - it's chewy yet also quite nutty and a little but crunchy due to the inclusion of some cornflakes in it as well. There are so many different components in it that each mouthful feels completely different and keeps you interested. Just looking at it you can see they've been generous with the ingredients with the large whole brazil nuts being a particular highlight.

The little bit of cinnamon in it adds a very subtle background warmth. It's not a cinnmon tasitng snack as such but after each swallow you get a nice little hint of the spice. I also really liked the fact they're quite big and substantial as I hate 'light' cereal bars that are all air and leave me feeling unsatisified.

In many ways they remind me of Eat Natural bars but a version that is maybe slighly less sticky and a bit more crunchy with a more unusual flavour and a bit less sugar. They are pretty pricey at £2 for 3 bars but they are, as mentioned, decent sized portion and a bit different to what else is out there.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Popchips Multipack

This will be very brief as the title pretty sums up everything about this product. I absolutely love Popchips - they have such a light, crunchy texture that really does pop in the mouth. Deliciously savoury with a good salty kick and yet under 100 calories a bag for something that feels substantial and not too airy.

I've always thought they should do a multipack and now they do. There's nothing new here but it means I can keep a supply of healthier snacks in the house or stock up on them to take to work. Buying them like this also makes the cost of individual bags cheaper. I also love how they come in a card box rather than the bags you usually get for multipack crisps. Not only does it look so much cooler and really makes them stand out, it also protects the individual bags inside much better - keeping my precious Popchips intact!

Monday, 23 February 2015

Balocco Cacao Snack Wafers

I'm a complete coffee nut. I'm not someone who drinks loads or thrives off it but I love coffee house experiences. Rather than drinking multiple cups of instant a day, I prefer to just have one really authentic proper coffee and enjoy it as a relaxing moment.

Products like this Balocco Snack Wafer are perfect for relaxing with a creamy capuccino at home as they help create an even more authentic coffee house experience. Having made a nice capuccino using properly steamed milk with my coffee maker, this seemed a natural accompaniment - I could have been at Caffe Nero or somewhere similar.

I absolutely also love continental products - amaretti, cantuccini and all those lovely little morsels seem so sophisticated and perfect for taking a break. These again just look so right paired with a cappuccino and they taste so right too!

In each pack, there is 8 petite little wafers so are the right size for sharing or as the whole pack is 45g perfect for one as well. I went for four.

The biscuits are three crispy, airy wafers sandwiching a chocolate filling. Although the chocolate layer looks quite thin, it is so creamy you get a real cocoa hit. The wafers are dreamily light and their delicate texture complements the filling. They're utterly delicious whether eaten on their own or dipped in a coffee.

When dipped the chocolate becomes just that extra bit smoother and sublime and the wafers are meltingly soft. They still keep their shape and crispiness but just become that extra bit treaty. I absolutely loved these - perfect for recreating continental coffee moments.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Arla Protein Snack Pot

I was lucky enough to get a free sample of the new Arla Protein Snack pots via BzzAgent. Snacks and foods high in protein seems to be the big trend at the moment and with good reason. I always find myself particularly satiated after eating foods high in protein - they're filling and therefore help to reduce cravings and bingeing.

With a whopping 20g of protein per pot, these are aimed as a pre or post gym snack with all this protein helping to repair muscles. What I really liked about these pots is that they're a more casual and mainstream way of getting additional protein into your diet. Most gym snacks aimed at hardcore gym goers are pumped full of weird things like whey powder or come in weird pills. Whilst I like protein, I don't want to eat artificial substances to bulk up. I prefer natural things.

Luckily there's no fake nasties in this. Essentially, it's just quark - a low fat, high protein dairy product with a bit of fruit, a bit of sugar and some rosehip. The only thing you wouldn't find in a kitchen is some stevia for a sweetener and this is obviously better than things like aspartame. It's also low in sugar at 6g per 100g. Other high protein yoghurts like Danio are higher than this.

It's not quite as thick as Danio but the texture is still rich and creamy - albeit slightly airier. In a way it reminds me of the texture of Angel Delight or a mousse rather being Greek yoghurt consistency. It tastes a bit like raspberry angel delight as well -which is nice! It's slightly sweet but not overly so but still thick and delicious. The fruit flavour can be tasted and I did find that after eating this I didn't want to eat again until dinner.

They're also currently half price at 62p at Tesco at the moment so now is a good time to try them.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Aero Mousse Limited Edition Hazelnut Flavour

After reading such a glowing review at 1treat about this new limited edition, I just had to seek it out and give it  try. I absolutely adore hazelnut and chocolate - it's the winning combination that Nutella has perfected - so although I don't normally buy this kind of product, I really wanted to give this a try.

I haven't really eaten a fake mousse from a supermarket since I was a child - myabe occasionally I'd eat a genuine homemade mousse au chocolat or order one in a nice restaurant but usually this kind of very aerated, slightly fake stuff isn't really for me so I was interested to see what I'd make of it.

It's packaged nicely enough although unless I'd read about it and proactively gone to find it, I don't think I would have noticed it on shelf. Even the fact it's hazelnut isn't really overtly advertised. However, the pots feel nice to hold and are a pretty decent size. One thing which was a bonus is that each tub is only 85 calories and yes, although there's some pretty unnatural ingredients in there, it's not overly horrendous. It's not too suagry either really as the bulk of the mousse (68%) is milk. Just over a fifth of the product is sugar, which translates to 11.8g per pot, which for a dessert is really quite good. There are many cereal bars, which are over a third sugar and mainstream chocolate is well over 50%.

Opening up each pot, it looks pretty inviting and there is a nice faint chocolatey aroma, which is quite pleasant. However, upon my first taste, I'm afraid to say I was disappointed. Sorry!

I just couldn't get the hazelnut hit I was after. It is there but it is way too subtle. The main taste is just sweet and, although chocolatey, not very satisfying. As I've said, I don't really eat this kind of product and I remember why now. It's so airy and light you don't get any satisfaction and still want something else to eat afterwards. Yes, it's only 85 calories but I would have enjoyed just one indulgent biscuit instead. If you like mousse, you'll probably like this but it wasn't a proper treat in my eyes.

Score: 5.5/10

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Kanpur Garden Deluxe Madras Cooking Sauce

I'm not a massive Lidl or Aldi shopper but every now and then make a little trip to them for a change and am usually pleasantly surprised by a couple of items and this madras cooking sauce from Lidl was another winner.

This was bought at an absolute steal of just 64p as part of a half price weekend offer to coincide with their Asian week but even at £1.29 it would still be a bargain for something that creates a fairly authentic curry in your own home.

I usually don't even buy curry sauces or even Indian ready meals as they're never as good as a proper takeaway. Of course, I would still choose a takeaway over this for a really great Madras but this really is very, very good and puts all other ready sauces to shame. As well as the jar of sauce, there's a pouch of dry powder for extra flavour. You cook your meat or veg in is first and then add the sauce and simmer. This packs in so much flavour and is a lot tastier, quicker and easier than trying to make an Indian from scratch.

And unusually it's got a decent bite for a little bit of lip tingling chilli heat. It's no vindaloo but it is pretty spicy (this jar has a 3 chilli rating but there's are more milder curries in the range too).

I made a simple sweet potato, cauliflower, pepper and lentil Madras and it was so simple but more importantly utterly delicious. It was nearly as good as a real takeaway but ridiculously cheap. I would 100% buy this again.

Two minor setbacks is that it's fairly high in salt and sugar (although arguably less so than a takeaway) and trying to get the snice mix out of the top is a nightmare. Lidl need to sort this out as it was ridiculous how difficult this was and I ended up having to use a chef's knife.

Bar this toil, the curry was super easy and as said will probably become a regular go too.

Score: 8.5/10

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Nairns Stem Ginger Oat Biscuits

I buy a lot of Nairns stuff anyway but when I saw these on a special buy in Lidl for 89p, I thought I'd give them a try as well. I often buy the Nairns Muesli Breaks and Astrobites as they're a real guilt free biscuit treat with significantly less sugar than other biscuits.

These follow the same mould and have a lot of the same benefits. The first big plus is that the box contains 4 individually wrapped packs of 5 biscuits. This helps keep them fresh (nothing worse than massive packs of biscuits you don't eat frequently and then start to go soft), helps with portion control (though I like to think I wouldn't eat 5 in one go) and means you can take a pack out and about with you - so handy fot lunchboxes or journeys.

Nutritionally, like a lot of Nairns products, they have something going for them. Firstly, these biscuits are made from oats rather than flour so are wheat free and this means they're slightly lower GI and help keep you slightly fuller for longer. They're also 44 calories a biscuit and most importantly to me lower in sugar than other biscuits. They claim 40% than a standard biscuit and it's just over 17g of sugar per 100g with only 1.7g a biscuit, which is really great.

But of course, something can be very healthy but if it can't deliver on taste credentials, then you might as well not bother. Luckily, these are very tasty and actually more so than the other sweet Nairn biscuits I've tried. They taste less overtly oaty, like the Muesli Breaks, and have a really good gingery kick.

I absolutely love ginger and these have a really nice spicy warmth to them. A bit of demerara sugar keeps things nicely sweetened without being overly sweet at all. The inclusion of actual stem ginger is what really gives them a kick and actually they dunk quite well in tea too. They're never going to be quite as nice a ginger nut - although arguably these are way more gingery - but for the improved nutrition, they are easily substituitable for normal biscuits as they're delicious in their own right.

Score: 7.5/10

Monday, 26 January 2015

Tyrrell's Coconut and Caramel Popcorn

The popcorn popularity seems to show no sign of halting as more and more interesting flavours appear on our shelves. I never used to eat popcorn when your choices were either sweet or salt bytes after embracing Propercorn with its vanilla and coconut and Waitroses Ginger and Wasabi flavour, I now am firmly team popcorn.

Tyrell's who I always associate with innovative and exciting flavours of crisps do some interesting popcorn too such as a sticky toffee popcorn version. But this version, with coconut, was always going to be my first choice.

Opening the bag, the smell is fairly indistinguishable. Slightly sweet but no real overpowering scent to speak of. The pieces are all delightfully fluffy and light. No kernels here. And like all popcorn is a guilt free snack. You could pretty much eat the entire bag and it wouldn't be more than the average muffin. And per third of a bag, there's only about a teaspoon and a half of sugar.

But of course, anything guilt free is never quite as nice as something naughty and that's true here too. The taste is nice but it's quite mild without a really good hit of coconut. It's addictive and you want to eat more but it's not a proper sweet treat. As something to mindlessly graze on or to curb a sweet tooth on a diet, it's brilliant but I wouldn't choose it over a lot of other snacks.

Score: 6.5/10

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Marks and Spencer Xmas Tree and Shooting Star Snack Mix

I picked this leftover Christmas treat as it was reduced to only 50p. There's not really a lot to say about them - they are just plain, salted extruded snacks in the shape of Christmas trees and shooting stars.

I was pleasantly surprised by how intact the shapes remain and they do look festive. Taste wise, they're plain but in quite a nice way. There's something unfathomabley addictive about them. You just want to keep eating more and more with their satisfying, crispy texture and deeply salty hit.

The salt is my bugbear about this product. At 2.68g per 100g, it's ridiculously unhealthy and because they're so moreish and in a large, unsealable bag, it's too easy to overeat.

Score: 6.5/10

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Aldi Specially Selected Venison Pate with Burgundy Wine

I found this looking in my cupboards after I bought it ages ago. I'm not really sure why I bought it but assume it must have been ridiculously cheap, coming from Aldi.

It certaintly sounded nice and very premium and luxurious with the burgundy wine and venison is a more unusual meat. However, whilst perfectly adequate, that's all it was. It spreads fine, tastes okay and was meaty enough with a richness that I quite liked but that's all I can say.

The wine didn't come through and overall it was pretty non descript and tasted like any basic Brussels pate really. There's also something quite spooky about pate that is ambient rather than bought from the fridge in the supermarket. An expiry date of 2017 didn't help - I don't really want to think of what's in it to keep it 'fresh' for that long.

Score: 5/10

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Marks and Spencer Count on Us Chicken, Spinach and Ricotta Pizza

I try and eat as healthily as possible but at the same time when it's the weekend or you want a treat, I still want to be involved in the ritual of things like having a pizza for a movie night in. So I was intrigued by this new low calorie offering from M&S. To be honest, I'm very much against 'diet' foods. When fat is tripped out, usually something like sugar is added plus a whole load of weird, unnatural sounding ingredients.

Thankfully, reading the ingredients for list, there wasn't one single thing I didn't recognise or wouldn't have in my own kitchen. Surely, there must be some kind of catch? Well, I guess one is that when you get this out of the packaging, it that is pretty petite in size. But then again, I quite like this. I hate how big supermarket pizzas are. I always feel I have to wat a whole pizza as that's part of the experience but they're so big in diameter that this really isn't a good idea (and most supermarket pizzas are meant to serve 2 or 3). It's nice being able to eat a whole pizza and know that you are exceeding the recommended serving size. No waste and no going back for more than you should!

It cooks in only 9 mins and looks appetising enough. You can see plenty of peppery chicken and some nice blobs of ricotta.There isn't that much cheese across the pizza, which I guess keeps the calories down so it's no where near as nasty as a normal pizza or a take out. However, it is tasty in it's own right. I would say it's more akin to a flatbread with topping than a traditional pizza.

The base is nice and crispy but, as said, more like a flatbread without the doughiness of a true pizza. It is liberally smeared with tomato sauce for flavour and you do get enough topping to make it tasty enough. The blobs of ricotta and the chicken are the highlights and each slice with a bit of these on are the nicest. The ricotta is creamy and melting and the chicken has an uplifting kick from the pepper.

It didn't feel like a proper treat and lacks some indulgence but at 370 calories for the entire thing with less than 1.4 g of salt, you can'y really complain. Two slices of Dominos is likely to be 400 calories!

Score: 7/10

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Hotel Chocolat Christmas Gingerbread Chocolate Spread

I have been absolutely dying to try this since I saw it posted on GroceryGems. I absolutely adore gingerbread - anything with cinnamon, ginger, molasses and all those warming winter spices is a winner in my eyes - and nothing is more suited to cold winters than the spicy, homely smell of gingerbread. I completely forgot about it with the run up to Christmas but luck was on my side and I found the very last jar in my local store - I practically dived on it to stop anyone else snapping it up!

I only discovered Hotel Chocolat last year but I am now such a big fan. Not only do they have the most interesting and innovative ideas and flavours, I love the fact this is 'real' chocolate. Lots of proper cocoa mass and butter without the need to bulk it out/cheapen it with sugar and weird ingredients. This is as far removed from the like of Nestle as you can imagine. High quality and for that reason I love it - you get less and it costs more - but it's worth it for the better taste and reduced sugar.

Opening up the tub, you can smell the gingerbread instantly. It's subtle but warming and makes you want to dive in with a spoon. It's a much thicker texture than I was expecting but this is likely due to the fact that it's made with hazelnut paste without the need for oils. Rather than Nutella's sticky, oily texture, it's more alike to a nut butter.

Neverthless it's really easy to spread. It melts beautifully on warm toast and oozes tantalisingly. This made the ultimate weekend breakfast. It's sweet but not overpoweringly so and not in the least sickly or sugary. The gingerbread notes work well with chocolate and is done masterfully so you can taste both the warming notes of ginerbread and the sophisticated darkness of chocolate both seperately and together. It tastes so decadent and indulgent and yet when you look at the ingredients, it's natural and actually not too bad. It utterly melts in the mouth and is so creamy.

It's utterly delicious and if you're lucky enough to spot a jar left over anywhere, I throughly recommend grabbing it before we have to wait until next Christmas.

Score: 8/10

Friday, 9 January 2015

Marks and Spencer Bircher Muesli

In January, I'm sure a lot of us look to eat healthier after the indulgences of Christmas. I've spoken before of my love for bircher muesli. It's the ultimate feel good food. Healthy and nutrient dense but yet still feels special and a bit of a treat. For me, it's like a spa session for your taste buds - pampering with wellness.

Previously, I've loved the dry ambient muesli from Rude Health and also the chilled ready ones from Moma. This is an individual chilled pot, probably aimed for on the go but I bought it as a Friday treat for myself. It looks thick and creamy and rather beautiful with a sprinkling of pistachios, cranberries and pomegranate seeds.

Also embedded in the lovely thick yoghurt is lots of nice big strips of fresh apple, harking back to the original Swiss style. These adds loads both in terms of texture and taste. They keep the pot sweet and fresh. The apple, along with honey and cinnamon, give the muesli a sweet, faintly spiced flavour that is lovely.

Unusually, this recipe has no softened oats, instead containing a bit of granola. Actually, I didn't miss this core component that much as there's lots of inclusions for texture and the granola adds a little crunch.

My only bugbear was the few pomegranate seeds. I like pomegranate seeds but they're watery, tart and refreshing flavour is so strong, they don't work with the softness of bircher muesli. Luckily, there's only a few and the cranberries and pistachios work providing nuttiness and sweetness.

At £1.85, it's definitely overpriced but makes a nice treat.

Score: 8/10